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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Walking With Jackie the Ripper

Thursday, January 15, 2004

A bit of a bully she is, especially when I am near enough for her to run and jump into my arms when an attack on a cat or bird backfires. Like most bullies, Jackie is a coward at heart, I grieve to say.

One of the stories passed down through the years in our family concerns a young ruffian, a neighbor, who tied into one of Daddy's little brothers at recess. Word got out in the school yard that Bully Joe's plow was going to get cleaned by Willy, (who years later became my father) and his retribution was to take place following school that very same day. Excitement reigned supreme! Someone was gonna get a beatin'!

You need to understand that Joe had been warned of the folly of attacking one of these little Cash kids, for like most Ozarks children, they had been taught early on that blood is thicker than water, and one takes care of one's own. The code of the hills loomed large in their lives. Still does.

It was Joe's almost daily habit to ride his horse around the neighborhood. In order to inflict punishment upon his enemy, Willy decided to lie in the weeds and bushes which grew alongside the road and attack him as he passed by. (The Cash boys did not have a horse and bitterly resented the fact. Joe wasn't about to share, either.)

Well, sure enough, in a short while here came Joe astride his horse and sitting tall in the saddle. He was only a short distance from Willy's hiding place when the boy jumped out and ran toward the horse. Joe, being no fool, spurred his steed into a gallop, but as they hurried past, up jumped Willy, grabbing both the saddle and Joe. As he made his climb he began clawing and pounding his opponent about the head and shoulders in a wild and unmerciful manner.

As you may well imagine, this proved greatly unnerving to Joe, who could only urge the horse to run faster, while calling for help at the top of his lungs, but was unable to get away from his assailant who was firmly attached to his back.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Willy's mother was out in the backyard working in the garden. Understandably, Joe's loud cries attracted her attention almost at once, and she started running toward the problem waving her apron -- in those days all ladies wore aprons whenever doing any type of chore -- and calling for Willy to stop fighting Joe. After assessing the situation she feared that one or both of them might fall off the horse and be killed or a least severely injured. In all probability most of her concern centered around her own son as opposed to Joe, for nobody in town much liked him.

Well this order for ceasing of hostilities was met with joy by Joe, who had endured hard blows to his nose, the side of his head, ribs, and other body parts. His shirt was a mess, too. Willy obeyed his mother and dropped from the horse by sliding off over its rump.

Joe was a lot more careful about who he picked on henceforth and forever more.